We had the good fortune to be able to secure a few advance screeners for some of our top Hot Docs film picks. Tonight the Les Blank Retrospective begins with the Maestros program which includes: Dizzy Gillespie, The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins and The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists.
Dizzy Gillespie, Directed by Les Blank (20 minutes)
Quick Summary: Released in 1965, Les Blank films Dizzy Gillespie in 1964 playing with his band, chatting on how he got his start playing and his thoughts on music theory.
Our Thoughts: This grainy black and white short film captures the spirit of Dizzy Gillespie and his talent. Not only do you wish you could have been there to hang out with him, you also feel compelled to immediately put on his albums and listen for days. It is easy to see why Dizzy Gillespie inspired many generations of musicians. Les Blank’s ability to capture a moment in time and the spirit of the person is undeniable.
The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Directed by Les Blank with Skip Gerson (31 minutes)
Quick Summary: Les Blank visits legendary bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins in Texas during 1968. Fantastic vivid footage of Lightinin’ Hopkins playing the blues with friends which includes an outdoor bbq scene, is interchanged with footage from his home town of Centerville, TX and a black rodeo. Read more
So, This Happened; Three nights of pure bliss with Patti Smith
March 7, 2013; Patti Smith –An Evening of Words and Song at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Was the perfect balance of songs and reading from Just Kids. As I hadn’t seen her perform live for several years, my anticipation ran high and even as this was a small setting, she didn’t disappoint.
March 8, 2013 – Dream of Life film screening + Q & A at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Patti and the director Steven Sebring greeted us before things started and talked about the inception of the film. I hadn’t seen this film before so was hoping for exactly what we got – an intimate (but not overly intrusive) peek into the life of this mother, painter, poet, musician and activist.
March 9, 2013 – Patti Smith Live with Jesse Paris Smith, Jackson Smith and Tony Shanahan at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, in tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe. A sold out show that I was fortunate to have good friends go out of their way to ensure I could attend was a gift on many levels and ultimately the icing on top of an already delicious cake.
Every opening line I have thought of for this piece has crippled me, they all sound so cliché – gems like ‘where were you when you discovered Patti Smith?’, ‘The woman who merged poetry & rock with ease, blew it apart and put it back together again’ etc. etc. – you get the drift. What I did finally come up with was this; In my life (so far) I could assemble a banquet room full of people that I admire and Patti Smith would definitely make the guest list. Read more
When we heard Sandra Bernhard was going to be in town performing her acclaimed one woman show “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?” we snapped up our tickets immediately. As she summarized during her performance on March 22, “the bitch is back” and to that we said “hallelujah”.
She started in the comedy business in the late 70s, making a name for herself with her pull no punches critiques of celebrities and political figures. It’s a formula she stuck to through out her career, this latest show being no exception.
Bernhard took the audience through a meandering evening of celebrity lambasting, disbelief at the current political situation in the US and observations on current culture (Trader Joe’s vs. Whole Foods, for example, where she allegedly ran screaming from the former due to their display of wizened peppers).
If, starting today, you could only listen to one record/cd/digital album for six months, what would it be? I guess our (The Grapes of Wrath) new album High Road. I like it and I need to practise the songs so I can play them live!
What is your ultimate couch (burn out/hangover) day entertainment? Watching movies on-line.
What kind of art do you live with? Original art by painter/photographer friends. I also collected original film posters as teenager and have a few of them on the walls. Read more
Canadian Music Week 2013 is upon us with Metric, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Coheed & Cambria, Serena Ryder, and others playing. Label, agency and management showcases are booked in clubs and hotel suites. Everyone wants your attention. Without a doubt the buzz of ‘what’s hot’ and ‘the shows to be seen at’ are deafening. SASSYTIDBITS is taking the ‘off the beaten path’ approach and looking at acts playing smaller clubs. Here are 12 artists that we believe might surprise you.
Alt-country band New Country Rehab release their second album, Ghost Of Your Charms, on March 5. With comparisons ranging from The Avett Brothers to Mumford And Sons, I wondered why this was the first that I had been hearing about them?
Ghost Of Your Charms is a mix of folk, alt-country and blues sounds. My favourite tracks on this album are the darker, blues influenced tracks like “Rollin” or “Lost Highway” and more country influenced tracks like “Home To You” or “The Bank And The Army”. Lead singer John Showman’s voice is unique and lends itself well to the musical style of these songs. The production, led by Chris Stringer (Timbre Timbre, Ohbijou, The D’ubervilles), provides a live element to the recording which gives the listener a real indication of how good they must be live (which is very good by all accounts).
As I settled in for a first listen over the weekend, I had to think that the comparisons (like most comparisons) were a little unfair. Not because New Country Rehab aren’t a great group of musicians (they are). Not because I don’t like The Avett Brothers or Mumford And Sons (I do).
Where are you? In my new home in Vancouver – I just moved two days ago. I can’t believe I even have internet connectivity to write this.
If, starting today, you could only listen to one record/cd/digital album for six months, what would it be? I get mildly obsessive about new music. When something new grabs me, I play it to death until I get sick of it. Right now, it’s the new Tegan & Sara album, Heartthrob. So if I have to listen to one thing for six months, this one will likely keep me very happy for most of it.
What is your ultimate couch (burn out/hangover) day entertainment? Geting my butt kicked repeatedly at NHL 13 by my seven year old son.
What kind of art do you live with? I love to take photos, so having gorgeous photos up on my walls makes me very happy. My favourites are black and white photographs of natural settings, usually from out here on the West Coast. Read more
Supporting the arts can happen in many ways. Funding is usually the critical beginning, whether you are paying for it on your own, have an investor or have a company backing you. One of the burgeoning developments is crowd source funding, whether it’s for your music, film, art or a technology project platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo can help make art a reality. What remains important is YOU can easily support the arts without having to be rich. Please put your money where your heart is and remember to SPREAD THE WORD.
This film is a labor of love, and an attempt to create something completely original and visually stunning. The movie will be something we can all be proud of; a fun, exciting ride that never becomes silly or tongue-in-cheek. The script is extremely tight, with sharp dialogue and great characters. The cast is first-rate, and though the creative professionals behind the camera might not be household names, they’re a respected team capable of working miracles. Read more
With the Academy Awards coming up on Sunday, we want to bring focus to one of this year’s nominated documentaries Searching For Sugar Man, a story decades in making and of striking dichotomies. Rodriguez, a promising Mexican-American folk songwriter from Detroit records two albums Cold Fact (1970) and Coming From Reality (1971) to little acclaim and no financial success in North America and the UK. Without knowing, these same albums through word-of-mouth become the soundtrack for a generation of young white South Africans during apartheid who disagree with their government. It’s also the story of music piracy, economic sanctions and the effect on culture while living in a police state.
It appears that music can change the world, or at the very least provide a soundtrack to the change. Visually the documentary tells the story by combining film footage, animation and re-enactments set against the stark coldness and decay of Detroit with the sunshine of South Africa. Read more